Asylum seekers denied US entry for second day
About 200 people in a caravan of Central American asylum seekers waited on the Mexican border with San Diego for a second-straight day Monday to turn themselves in to U.S. border inspectors, who said the nation’s busiest crossing facility did not have enough space to accommodate them.
After a monthlong journey across Mexico under the Trump administration’s watchful eye, the asylum seekers faced an unexpected twist Sunday when U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said San Diego’s San Ysidro border crossing facility had “reached capacity.” The agency said in a statement Monday that it had no estimate when the location would accept new asylum application cases.
About 50 people, many of them women and children, camped overnight on blankets and backpacks in Tijuana outside the Mexican entrance to the border crossing. The crowd grew Monday, assembled behind metal gates that Mexican authorities erected to avoid impeding the flow of others going to the United States for work, school and recreation.
Another 50 asylum seekers were allowed past a gate controlled by Mexican officials Sunday to cross a long bridge but were stopped at the entrance to the U.S. inspection facility at the other end. They waited outside the building, technically on Mexican soil, without word of when U.S. officials would let them try to claim asylum.
Irineo Mujica, a caravan organizer, said asylum-seekers who crossed the bridge remained in a waiting area on Mexican soil Monday. He alleged that U.S. authorities were refusing entry in an effort to dissuade people from trying.
“When they say they reached capacity, it’s just nonsense from [U.S. authorities] so they can abandon, not attend to, and evade their responsibilities in asylum cases,” said Mujica, of the advocacy group Pueblos Sin Fronteras.